10 tips for new beekeepers


  1. Work slowly!
  2. Keep good records of your hive inspections.
  3. Check hives every 2-3 weeks from early spring (exact timing depends on weather) and monthly from August – October.
  4. Be conscious of being fire safe with your smoker.
  5. Keep frames squeezed together as you work.
  6. Check for adequate brood space and whether brood area is honey bound.  Need more space?  Pull a built out frame up into the center of the new hive body you are adding.
  7. Know thy bees enemies.  There are lots out there…start by focusing on these two:
    1. Determining levels of varroa mite infestations (especially in late summer & fall), and
    2. Identifying American Foulbrood (you’re not likely to see but because of its’ highly contagious nature it is imperative you familiarize yourself with it).
  8. Prevent starvation (by feeding if/when necessary) and prevent yellow jacket robbing (by reducing entrance if necessary).
  9. Bigger is not always better.  As winter approaches, don’t leave too much honey on the colony making it harder for the bees to keep the cluster warm.
  10.  Work slowly!  (Worth mentioning again.)


New Beekeeping Basics

There’s a lot to learn, so in your first year, focus on the basics.


Basic timeline for new beekeepers:

 Fall before getting your bees: 

  • Attend classes
  • Read books (Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile’s The Beekeeper’s          Handbook and Tom Seeley’s Honeybee Democracy are two of our favorites)
  • Join the Marin Beekeepers Association  


Winter before getting your bees: 

  • Order equipment and bees



  • Get your bees!
  • Learn how to inspect your hives and prevent swarming.
  • Attend classes and get as much info as possible



  • Monitor your hive to control swarming.
  • Learn to recognize when – and what – to feed, if necessary.
  • Help protect (and prevent) robbing by yellow jackets, ants and other bees.
  • In late summer, start to monitor varroa mite levels.



  • Continue monitoring % infestation of varroa mites
  • Learn about mite management options
  • Harvest excess honey not needed by the bees for winter. (Not always                             possible in your colony’s first year.)



  • Clean up equipment from dead out colonies.
  • Learn to identify American Foulbrood.


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